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On the class struggle and the coming victory of the proletariat


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I never whine. I lobby. Sometimes I'm strident, sometimes I'm not. Why would I try to argue for things I don't want to see.

 

 

As I used to say to my mother in my teenage years when she'd accuse me of whining, "I can't whine because my voice is too low.  I complain loudly in a baritone register."

Edited by tajerio
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What I personally find interesting is that the Aedyrean's seem to have merged their culture with the Elven species, despite the fact that they cannot breed and so are not racially related they seem to be co-existing peacefully, that's very interesting and quite new to me. I assume that Dwraves have also been swallowed by their nearest dominant culture rather than keeping their own cultural identity, now is this a great opportunity to see a really dynamic mix of species and the various races of Humanity, or is there something lost in the Elves and Dwarves having been swallowed by the Human state. Or maybe that state is more of a conglomeration of different cultures and species, all sharing common ideals and goals.

 

Can speciesism exist in such a far ranging and diverse culture, or are there other hatreds born of more subtle differences? Soul strength, religion obviously or cultural superiority by inhabitants of the old dominant Empires. It seems quite strange to see different species treated as brothers, how did this come to pass, when did the early tribes of men cast away the fear and hatred of the stranger, and instead embrace them as countrymen?

 

I'm interested to see what manner of leadership has arisen in the Free Palatinate as well, because we all know that there's no such thing as freedom. What manner of government is used by the Glenfathan's, and how deep within their culture does the protection of the Engwithan ruins run? Are these societies still largely agrarian, with the vast majority of people working the land and being largely self sufficient, with luxuries available at exotic locales such as the nearest market towns? I look forward to finding the answer to these questions and more.

Quite an experience to live in misery isn't it? That's what it is to be married with children.

I've seen things you people can't even imagine. Pearly Kings glittering on the Elephant and Castle, Morris Men dancing 'til the last light of midsummer. I watched Druid fires burning in the ruins of Stonehenge, and Yorkshiremen gurning for prizes. All these things will be lost in time, like alopecia on a skinhead. Time for tiffin.

 

Tea for the teapot!

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Death Machine, I cringed when I read the interview where it was proclaimed that Obsidian would direct it's fell gaze upon issues of class and race. I still think it's extraneous. If it's too earnest and predictably left-wing I'll just laugh at it and try to be as 'evil' as possible.

 

Hopefully it will be confined to some emo, woe-is-me NPCs I can ignore.

 

Yeah, figured there must be some sentiment of this sort around. And god only knows approaching a subject like this could be done really badly really easily: either hamfisted writing or cowardice on the part of the developers would be more than enough to do the trick and make it all cringeworthy. 

 

When I think of PoE dealing with issues of class and institutional racism, I don't think of it being shoved down your throat ("Racism is baaaddd! Rich people are evvvillll!") so much as just being a major factor in how the world looks and how it plays. Its details of that sort which make everything feel more authentic, issues that less detailed fantasy worlds don't bother with because it forces their readers to think too much. If done well, its a step I strongly approve because, while I like killing things and taking their stuff, there are a s***ton of RPGs out there with that as their central focus and very, very few which ask players to use their brains or make value judgements that go beyond "do I kill the Evil Overlord or do I join him?" 

 

The world in BG and BG2 (or, really, let's just say the entire Forgotten Realms setting) was one which unravelled before your eyes if you thought too hard about it. You weren't supposed to think too hard about it, nor was it supposed to make any sense; you were supposed to switch off your brain and go out and kill stuff and get lots of cool new magical items. I would be happy of PoE aims a little higher than that.

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I'm confident they'll do a good job. There are precedents. Class (and to a lesser extent, race) was worked into Arcanum, and virulent misogyny into FO:NV, and I don't recall hearing too many complaints about it being in-your-face or didactic.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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If this is a newly colonized region then I'm not sure that land ownership will be as significant an issue as it would in the old world. After all, cheap land was one of the selling points for drawing in the original colonists to the new world. A more significant issue might be indentured servitude: paying off a debt as a bonded laborer for some period of time. That and outright slavery. The wealthy class are more likely to own the labor that works the fields.

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"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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I suppose the elite strata of colonists might have brought their own labouring classes with them, who become a sort of enforcer-class for their masters. As society develops you could see them developing nasty KKK-type organisations to defend their own privilege.

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So they're saying 'class problems' will be explored. Kinda makes me curious, since that isn't a common issue for RPGs to tackle. 

 

For one thing, since we'll apparently be getting a stronghold from which we'll be able to tax people, I suppose the PC's position in any class dispute would lean by default to alliance with whatever landowning class might exist.

 

[...]

 

But perhaps I'm in a minority. What does everyone else think of the idea of P:E tackling 'class' issues? Do you think it will be an important part of the game, and if it is, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Marx and Engels both came from wealth. Marx personally shunned it and lived in poverty, Engels used it to support their cause (as well as Marx, at times.)

 

Most hero of justice type players would probably like to imagine themselves as a wise and benevolent ruler whose patriarchal guidance is necessary to keep their ignorant peasants living peaceful, happy lives of dawn-to-dusk labor tied to the land.

 

 

Considering "class struggle" is used almost exclusively by right-leaning politicians in the U.S. as a childish retort to/attempt to distract from any social problems that arise out of the economic system, I think it's something with value. At the same time, the equivalent historical period and the fantasy setting are sufficient to deter almost all players from thinking about the ramifications and problems of class that exist today.

 

 

If this is a newly colonized region then I'm not sure that land ownership will be as significant an issue as it would in the old world. After all, cheap land was one of the selling points for drawing in the original colonists to the new world. A more significant issue might be indentured servitude: paying off a debt as a bonded laborer for some period of time. That and outright slavery. The wealthy class are more likely to own the labor that works the fields.

It wasn't a perception of cheap land; that demands some grander scale of economic organization, development and a labor force unbound to the land on which they were born (i.e. capitalism.) Most people who were colonists were paid to go there in the employ of members of the ruling class. Once colonies had been established, it was indentured servitude/slavery time.

 

Class exists without land ownership, and class conflict exists wherever there is more than one class.

Edited by AGX-17
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Class struggle as a concept is a bit of an industrial-age notion though. Doesn't really fit in a Renaissance setting; back then class conflict wasn't about overthrowing the system and usually wasn't even conceptualized of in terms of class.

 

It'd be a perfect fit for an Arcanum spiritual successor though. Upcoming kickstarter maybe...? I figure MCA has had his fill of the original and is champing at the bit for the opportunity to do it right.

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Class struggle as a concept is a bit of an industrial-age notion though. Doesn't really fit in a Renaissance setting; back then class conflict wasn't about overthrowing the system and usually wasn't even conceptualized of in terms of class.

 

It'd be a perfect fit for an Arcanum spiritual successor though. Upcoming kickstarter maybe...? I figure MCA has had his fill of the original and is champing at the bit for the opportunity to do it right.

 

Yeah. The thread title, at least, was largely tongue-in-cheek. 'Class struggle', as in a faction in the game with some grand Marxist vision of the overthrow of the bourgeois and the emergence of the classless society, would be wildly anachronistic in a Renaissance setting.

 

That said, the industrial age had no monopoly on utopian visions accompanying mass revolt. Its just by the industrial period they were secular, whereas previously they were more likely to be founded on a religious ideology, like Thomas Müntzer and the like. I don't think we really know enough about how important religion is in the world of PoE to say if anything like that would fit in its world. 

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As long as I can put the colonial bastards back in their place, with fire and sword and whip, then I'll be happy.

Why not a Sword Whip of Flame +1? Soul-Calibur meets D&D.

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Can we roast people on spits and feed them to their families?

From here on out Kaineparker is to be known as Titus Andronicus

 

 

Death Machine, I cringed when I read the interview where it was proclaimed that Obsidian would direct it's fell gaze upon issues of class and race. I still think it's extraneous. If it's too earnest and predictably left-wing I'll just laugh at it and try to be as 'evil' as possible.

 

Hopefully it will be confined to some emo, woe-is-me NPCs I can ignore.

 

Yeah, figured there must be some sentiment of this sort around. And god only knows approaching a subject like this could be done really badly really easily: either hamfisted writing or cowardice on the part of the developers would be more than enough to do the trick and make it all cringeworthy. 

 

When I think of PoE dealing with issues of class and institutional racism, I don't think of it being shoved down your throat ("Racism is baaaddd! Rich people are evvvillll!") so much as just being a major factor in how the world looks and how it plays. Its details of that sort which make everything feel more authentic, issues that less detailed fantasy worlds don't bother with because it forces their readers to think too much. If done well, its a step I strongly approve because, while I like killing things and taking their stuff, there are a s***ton of RPGs out there with that as their central focus and very, very few which ask players to use their brains or make value judgements that go beyond "do I kill the Evil Overlord or do I join him?" 

 

The world in BG and BG2 (or, really, let's just say the entire Forgotten Realms setting) was one which unravelled before your eyes if you thought too hard about it. You weren't supposed to think too hard about it, nor was it supposed to make any sense; you were supposed to switch off your brain and go out and kill stuff and get lots of cool new magical items. I would be happy of PoE aims a little higher than that.

 

I've been reading a book about... well some cultural conflict, let's no go into it too deeply. But what I found most interesting is how there always has been this drive to paint the victims as pure and blameless, when it is clear that all sides are dirty.

 

Institutional racism can of course, affect ALL species/godlike, depending on where you are in the world.

I think it's unrealistic to see some group of equal rights campaigners.

Slave rebellions in the ancient world didn;t end slavery, it just made the slaves take on the role of masters.

The question on my mind is, is PoE's society ready for a change? or will we just have to endure it?

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If they do I really hope they don't go with the predictable, left-wing stuff, like "evil rich people vs. good poor people".

 

Something like in Assassin's Creed where you can tell someone's a bad guy because they don't share the same political views as the devs.

Edited by drake heath
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If they do I really hope they don't go with the predictable, left-wing stuff, like "evil rich people vs. good poor people".

 

Holy crap! "Evil poor people versus good rich people." 8D! BRILLIANT!

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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"Class" struggle is not only an industrial era sort of occurrence. The historical period that PoE is an analog in many ways was a precursor to the later revolutions (especially the French) that helped define the we think of class and social structure. You have peasant rebellions in what will be Germany in the 16th century (ironically, one of the moments that Engles actually uses in his arguments), as well as the HRE's early and contuning conflicts with Italian city-states (many of whom had not traditional based political and social organizations). 

 

Also, the Reformation had wide-ranging and lasting effect on the political, social, and religious landscape of Europe (and arguably was the most important moment of social change in pre-modern Europe).  

 

So, ya, keep overgeneralizing things and disparaging these themes. 

 

EDIT - Of course this glosses over such things as renewed contact with the Eastern Empire during the Crusades, conflicts as well as exchange between the Umma and Christendom, the melting pot of Christian/Jewish/Muslim Spain, but you know, these themes wouldn't be appropriate for the time period, would they?

Edited by DCParry
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@DCParry If you're replying to me, I think I need to clarify.

 

The concept of "class struggle" is explicitly Marxist. It is of course crucial to Marx's theory of history, and in my view a highly useful way to look at both historical and contemporary societies and their evolution. Marxist historiography does explain a lot of history in terms of class struggle.

 

However, pre-industrial societies did not conceptualize the conflicts within or between them in terms of class. In Marxist terms, the classes of the time had false consciousness. Peasants in a jacquerie did not think of themselves as rebelling against the class structure which made them peasants, nor did they believe that the conditions that pushed them to revolt were caused by that class structure. They thought of these struggles either in terms of 'justice' (restoring a usually mythical order currently unbalanced by an unjust ruler), or in religious terms. The Renaissance itself was originally seen not as an era of something new, but as the rebirth of the glories of ancient Rome and Greece. 

 

So yes, there was plenty of class conflict, sometimes even revolutionary or near-revolutionary class conflict (Chinese history has plenty of fascinating examples!), but describing this confict as 'class struggle' in the Marxist sense is anachronistic in a work of fiction set in a pre-industrial age. The concept wasn't invented yet, and people did not think of what they were doing in those terms. This is what I meant in my shorter post above.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@DCParry If you're replying to me, I think I need to clarify.

 

The concept of "class struggle" is explicitly Marxist. It is of course crucial to Marx's theory of history, and in my view a highly useful way to look at both historical and contemporary societies and their evolution. Marxist historiography does explain a lot of history in terms of class struggle.

 

However, pre-industrial societies did not conceptualize the conflicts within or between them in terms of class. In Marxist terms, the classes of the time had false consciousness. Peasants in a jacquerie did not think of themselves as rebelling against the class structure which made them peasants, nor did they believe that the conditions that pushed them to revolt were caused by that class structure. They thought of these struggles either in terms of 'justice' (restoring a usually mythical order currently unbalanced by an unjust ruler), or in religious terms. The Renaissance itself was originally seen not as an era of something new, but as the rebirth of the glories of ancient Rome and Greece. 

 

So yes, there was plenty of class conflict, sometimes even revolutionary or near-revolutionary class conflict (Chinese history has plenty of fascinating examples!), but describing this confict as 'class struggle' in the Marxist sense is anachronistic in a work of fiction set in a pre-industrial age. The concept wasn't invented yet, and people did not think of what they were doing in those terms. This is what I meant in my shorter post above.

 

I wasn't replying to you. I was just replying to a general sentiment that this sort of exploration had no place (I see you you were employing a formal use of "class struggle", while I was approaching it as a more general term).

Edited by DCParry
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As long as it's not black-and-white (anarchy goood, government baaad) and it's not heavy-handed (Bioshock: Infinite), I think it's a good topic to explore.

 

Ugghh...Bioshock: Infinite.

 

Note to developers: if you want to approach a controversial subject (such as American exceptionalism, early 20th century racism in the United States, religious fundamentalism, class divisions, etc.), have something a little more interesting to say than, "See? All of these people are cartoonishly evil, without exception! Now go out and kill all of them!"

 

Just as an aside... this is the american consumer / media at work.  The games story had nothing to do with any of that, or it was touched on lightly at best just to give you a reason to not like Comstock.  The story was actually about you and Elizabeth/all that that entails and the weird pseudo science time traveling alternate dimension nonsense.  I am not saying your gripes aren't legitimate.... only that the subject matter was nothing but a explanation for the setting and a cheap easy way to get the ball rolling and create conflict.  They were not trying to make a story that was a political commentary, hell by the time you got out the museum that stuff pretty much never got touched on again in any noticeable way.

 

That out of the way *tosses soap box aside*

 

I have no issue with them bringing in class or race struggle to Eternity.  It only makes sense, it isn't like this sort of stuff didn't exist in medieval times or anything.  They just need to address it in an intelligent way, not make it hamfisted or blatantly overt, and let the player react in a natural way.  Not shoe horn it into the main plot and force it into your face/limelight.  I know people don't get it today for example but guess what... back in olden times no one in England thought it was weird that they hated the french.  In colonial times no one thought it was odd that a guy might own slaves.  It is just the way things were at those times.  It is like how today no one would be caught dead with bellbottom jeans or giant poofy 80's hair.  Games run into trouble and handle this subject matter poorly because they try to force modern pre conceptions on a non modern period and it just never works.

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Well, I'm not a political scientist, but Watt Tyler and the Peasant's revolt has class-struggle* overtones. And that was in 1381.

 

The peasants weren't after significant societal change - a 'rights paradigm' as we know it simply didn't exist in a highly religious medieval Europe (although England did bring us the Magna Carta). What they did want was a better deal within the existing order - lower taxes and an end to serfdom.

 

So the notion of revolting peasants, protesting en masse with flaming torches and pitchforks, is a perfectly valid trope for a game such as PoE. although in a fantasy game where any sort of industrialisation is belied by magic (after all, most fantasy worlds seem to be aeons old yet folks are still running around with spears), there would be alternative and possibly interesting political consequences.

 

* I accept there was no 'class' as per the Marxist definition, but I'm sure some of the more rebellious peasantry looked at their betters and very much doubted the bollocks the priest told them every Sunday about fate and divine rights.

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I never got why fantasy worlds don't all have an upper classes that consists entirely of mages and magic users.

 

You'd think in real life they'd be at the top for a long time until someone invents guns.

Edited by drake heath
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^ It would be a brilliant plot. A mageocracy that ruthlessly tries to hunt down the practitioners of a deadly new science that threatens their supremacy. I remember an awful Keanu Reeves movie - they invented a wonder fuel that made petrol redundant and everyone tried to kill him.

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^ It would be a brilliant plot. A mageocracy that ruthlessly tries to hunt down the practitioners of a deadly new science that threatens their supremacy. I remember an awful Keanu Reeves movie - they invented a wonder fuel that made petrol redundant and everyone tried to kill him.

That would be 1996's Chain Reaction, IIRC. With Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Brian Cox, Fred Ward and Joanna Cassidy

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